Thursday, February 18, 2010

Canning Cans

Generally I try to avoid foodstuffs that come in a can. Fresh is always best. That said, it is pretty unavoidable.

The downside of using less canned goods is that I often forget that they are there. Yesterday PJ called late in the day to inform me that she was coming down with a bad cold. She wondered if we had any chicken soup in stock—as in the cupboard. I said yes, knowing that we had some tucked in and around the other cans.

After hanging up I researched the situation. Yes, there were two cans. Something made me look at the bottoms. (Generally guys are notorious bottom watchers.) Both had “use by” dates that probably would have made PJ’s cold seem like a minor itch. A more appropriate phrasing should be, “This will expire you if you don’t use by ____.” Now that these bottoms had my attention I began looking at all of them.

Full disclosure—awareness of canning dates had simply not stayed in any part of my memory depot. That train had left station.

Inventory completed, I threw out fourteen cans including vegetable soup, vegetable and beef broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, beef gravy, chicken noodle soup, cream of chicken soup (the texture of hard jello) and fancy crabmeat still left over from my crab cakes recipe creation five years earlier.

Not all canners put a “use by” or any sort of date on their cans, or if they do it is in code. I probably should toss them all.

Supermarket marketers love to temp us with two-for-ones or buying in larger quantities to “save money.” The problem is that you use one or two cans and the rest sit there, for years.

From now on I will buy as needed.

Today PJ took a sick day and once again asked about chicken and vegetable soup. Instead, I found a vegetable soup recipe on Food Network, adapted it, and tossed in a 12-ounce can of chicken breast, well within the date. I didn’t have any chicken breasts thawed.

Next up—it is time for my annual refrigerator cleaning. Yes, I said annual. Don’t look at me in that tone of voice. I’m pretty sure there are some cultures camped in there that would qualify as WMDs.

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